The carrot is lord of the rings

If you have an expensive wedding ring but you don’t have a carrot patch, you must be some kind of a daredevil or just a damned fool. A thorough study of the data reveals that when it comes to lost wedding rings, carrots are our finest and most reliable retrieval system. They may not always be as swift or as sexy as a trained magpie or a private investigator or a plumber down a u-bend, their methods may be incremental and their features may be orange and hairy, but they come through in the end.

In 2004 a Canadian lady named Mary Grams lost her wedding ring. She had been wearing it for fifty years but one day noticed that she no longer was. She hunted around but to no avail, so she drove to town, bought a cheap ring from a pawnshop and carried on as usual, which is the kind of no-fuss pioneering Canadian spirit of which we could stand a little more in this degraded modern world. Her husband never asked and she never told, which I suspect is one of the secrets of a long and happy marriage. He died shortly after their 60th wedding anniversary, but this month her daughter-in-law Colleen plucked a misshapen carrot from the family patch and found the ring tight around its middle, like a sterling silver corset.

A fluke, you say? A freak of nature? Pah! What about Lena Paahlsson who took off her ring while baking a delicious Swedish rubaberkaka in December 1995, only to have it vanish? For a while the family feared it might have fallen into the mixing bowl and then served in the cake. You can be sure that for the next few days members of Paahlsson clan were slipping off to gingerly sift through their rubaberkaka in the hope of finding mama’s bling. But it was gone forever, or at least for 17 years, until 2012 when someone pulled a carrot from the garden and found Lena’s ring snugly round the middle. How did the ring get from the kitchen to underground in the garden? Let us bow our head before the mystery of the Carrot God; let us not presume to know His ways.

Still unconvinced? In Bad Muenstereifel, which is a town in Germany but also what you would say to your dog Muenstereifel when he tries to bite the milkman, an 82 year-old man lost his wedding ring three years ago. He was gloomy about it, but his wife tried to buck him up. “It’ll come back!” she said. “There’ll be a happy ending!” Last year she died, and he found the ring on a carrot. It’s hard to know exactly what the moral of that is, but two-thirds of these stories have involved recent bereavement. Perhaps the Carrot God requires human sacrifice, its wonders to perform.

There are other techniques for finding lost rings. An American couple claim that visiting Pompeii is an effective method, but tell me if you believe this. In 2006 Margaret and Justin Mussel, from Newark, New Jersey, visited Pompeii on their honeymoon. I’m frankly surprised more newly-weds don’t choose Pompeii: what more touching testimonial to romance than to inspect other couples entombed forever in tortured tableaux of domestic togetherness?

At any rate, Margaret lost her ring. This year the Mussels returned to Pompeii, because when it comes to enjoying cities full of ancient folks immortalized at the moment of agonizing death, once a decade is simply not enough. They were strolling along, says Justin, when he saw something glimmering in a crack in the pavement, bent down, and using a screwdriver which he just happened to have along with him, excavated Margaret’s lost wedding ring.

Come off it, Justin. It’s a good story, but we aren’t your adoring wife. What happened back in 2006, Justin? Were you afraid she might have the ring appraised and find out it’s part of the haul from the Tiffany’s heist of ‘05? It was her or the ring, wasn’t it, Justin? What did you do, did you rub butter on her finger while she slept? Did you slide it off and pocket it, Justin, pocket it for nine long years, waiting for the heat to die down? Not long enough, Justin! Not long enough by a long chalk.

Oh, you were smart, all right, you were a canny customer, but you made one fatal error. You might just have gotten away with it, Justin, if you’d used a carrot.

Times, 6 September 2017